Devoted:A Masters and Mercenaries Novella

By: Lexi Blake

One Thousand And One Dark Nights



Once upon a time, in the future…



I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.

I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and

the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast

library at my father’s home and collected thousands

of volumes of fantastic tales.



I learned all about ancient races and bygone

times. About myths and legends and dreams of all

people through the millennium. And the more I read

the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered

that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually

become part of them.



I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher

and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I

would not be telling you this tale now.

But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off

with bravery.



One afternoon, curious about the myth of the

Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to

see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar

(Persian: شهریار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then

sent yesterday’s wife to be beheaded. It was written

and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,

the vizier’s daughter, he’d killed one thousand

women.



Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived

in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged

places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had

never occurred before and that still to this day, I

cannot explain.



Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have

taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can

protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to

protect herself and stay alive.



Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.

And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a

point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.

And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that

he might hear the rest of my dark tale.



As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new

one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before

you now.





Chapter One



Amy Slaten hung up the phone and sighed.

“Not again.”

She kind of wished her ex-husband wasn’t here to witness her complete and utter humiliation. Unfortunately, her ex-husband also happened to be her best friend and had been her business partner for a very long time. Their firms had been kept separate by an ironclad prenup and they’d handed back each other’s stock after their amicable divorce, but still she turned to him in times of trouble.

And the times they were a troubled now.

“Yes, we lost the Kleinman account. They’re concerned about the lawsuit and how my father could keep us wrapped up in court for a long time. Naturally they went to Glendale.” Glendale Incorporated was the bane of her existence and had been for a long time. She’d heard the company was under new management since John Adler had died. John and her father had been business rivals, and not the friendly kind. They’d gone for each other’s throats and it looked like the son John, Jr. was planning on keeping up the family traditions. He came after every contract Slaten Industries had, competed for every one they went after. Even the ones they shouldn’t. Glendale was so much bigger than Slaten. They shouldn’t play in the same sandbox, but the Adlers seemed determined to wipe out Slaten no matter what the cost to their own company.

Frankie sat back, his perfectly tailored clothes not wrinkling at all. He was wearing a Dolce & Gabbana three-piece suit with a snowy white dress shirt and a peacock blue tie that nearly matched his eyes. He was the most stunning man she’d ever met.

Unfortunately, he was also gay. Their marriage, while loving and friendly, had not been intimate in a physical sense.

“Is there anything I can do?” Frankie asked. “Beyond assassinating your father? Because I could arrange that. I know some interesting people.”

She had to chuckle at that. “Don’t tell me you’re bringing in the gay mafia.”

His lips curled up in a perfectly gorgeous smile. “Don’t underestimate the gay mafia, darling. They will take care of business and with amazing style.” He sobered. “You know I would do anything for you, right?”

He’d proven that when he’d married her in order to help her take Slaten Industries away from her awful father. At the time her father had been planning to sell the company her grandfather had built and take all the profits for himself. He’d been willing to sell out every employee they had for his own gain.

She’d stopped that with Frankie’s help, and she’d used the stock she’d gotten on the day she’d married him to help him wrest power away from Hank Lyndon, Frankie’s father and chief tormentor. They’d bonded over horrible parents.

His company was running brilliantly. Hers not so much. She was dealing with a board filled with relatives waiting to stab her in the back, chaos from moving the main office to Dallas along with her entire staff, multitudinous lawsuits filed by her parents, and a never-ending blood feud she didn’t quite understand.

All in all, her stress levels were reaching maximum capacity and she wasn’t sure she could come back down.

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